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Issued:15/06/12

A bunch of intrepid teachers have spent the last week in Iceland in a quest to learn more about the country's challenging landscape that they can use to make mathematics and science more exciting for school pupils back in the UK.

The seventeen-person team was co-led by Sheffield Hallam University's Julie Jordan, and they spent their week-long trip visiting Iceland's volcanoes, geysers, and measuring the temperature of hot springs.

Julie, who is Co-director of the Science Learning Centre Yorkshire and the Humber based in the Centre for Science Education (CSE) at Sheffield Hallam, said the trip provided a unique and inspiring opportunity to learn about innovative ways to teach science and mathematics outside of a classroom setting.

She said: "The trip to the hot springs and volcanoes had a real scientific purpose and embodies what the CSE stands for - putting science, engineering and maths into real-life and challenging scenarios that can sometimes have more relevance that a classroom environment."

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) study visit, from Sunday 3 June to Saturday 9 June, aimed to demonstrate cutting-edge science in a real-world context, helping teachers bring the subject to life for their pupils and giving them the confidence to organise inspirational school trips.

The teachers spent a week in the Haukadalur Geothermal area, where some of the best geysers in the world are located, and trekked across lava fields to the Llanjokull Glacier.   They also became the first group to measure the temperature of the hot springs in Geysir.

A 2008 Ofsted report highlighted the benefits of learning outside the classroom, such as better achievement and motivation in pupils, but many schools do not reap the full benefits of outside trips and teachers may lack the skills and resources they need to teach science outside a conventional classroom setting.

Sue Bull, director of the East Midlands Science Learning Centre, run by the University of Leicester, who is also collaborating on the trip, said: "Trips like this enhance the teacher's subject interest and knowledge of contemporary science in real life contexts, as well as increasing their confidence and knowledge of locations to facilitate learning outside the classroom.

"The trip also allows an exchange of ideas about teaching in an informal setting. In addition it lends itself to the acquisition of leadership and team building skills, as well as providing teachers with the necessary skills to organise and lead similar trips for, and with, their students.

"Iceland is an interesting and diverse country with lots of potential areas for STEM study, such as ecology, glaciology, volcanology and practical field studies techniques such as sampling, statistics and navigation."

For press information and photographs contact: Laurie Harvey on 0114 225 2621 or email pressoffice@shu.ac.uk